Retirement age for firefighters discussed at hearing

By TAYLOR MURCHISON-GALLAGHER

STAFF WRITER

There were two public hearings regarding possible ordinance amendments at the Monday, Aug. 20 meeting of the Town Council. One change regarded the fire department. And one set of changes addressed parking.

Lee explained that about six years ago, the Town Council and Fire Department “formed a committee to develop a fire ordinance” and that the ordinance was “extensive.”

“One of the provisions of the ordinance was to create a retirement date for firefighters, and it was at age 65,” said Lee. “There was some limited duties that firefighters were allowed to do beyond that, including participating in the Fire Police and doing other staff duties that might be needed by the chief.”

As it currently stands, the ordinance reads, “All members and officers of the Department and Company shall be retired from the Department and Company upon attaining the age of 65 years unless the person is appointed to the Fire Police or support staff.” The proposed change would read, “…upon attaining the age of 65 years unless the person is appointed to the Fire Police, support staff, or as a driver/operator of the fire apparatus.”

Lee said that this change was proposed because firefighter, Jeff Johnson, was about to reach the age of 65, but did not feel he was ready to retire.

Fire Department member, Dave Mazurek, also spoke, saying that he was approaching 65 and did not feel ready to retire.

“I’m one of the next drivers that’s going to be retiring shortly,” said Mazurek. “I’ll take any test possible – if I can pass it, I want to stay. But right now, until I’m 65, I’m going to fight as many fires as I can… and I want to train some of the new guys [on] what to do.”

One of the other proposed changes would allow active members to be appointed as a driver/operator if they request it. That position would allow them to continue serving until the age of 72.

“We’ve got some very talented people here that are not ready to retire. There’s no real reason that they should retire other than we have an age restriction,” said Fire Chief Kevin Toner. “I think moving them off to a driver is the proper thing to do, it takes them out of the grueling task of being an inside firefighter – which is really a young man’s game – and it puts them in a position where they can keep an eye on things, they can get a truck to a scene, they can get everything rolling for us, we can get water, we can’t put the fire out without water, and these guys are very capable of doing it.”

“ I don’t see any reason to make them retire at that point, they’re very useful to us in the day of declining volunteers,” said Toner.

The last change to the ordinances would change the age of retirement from the Fire Police from 70 to 72 years. Similarly, the age of retirement from support staff would also be stretched from 70 to 72 years of age.

One dealt with vehicles and traffic regarding parking regulations clarifying violations would result in a $25 per day fine.

Another change clarified language about the fine for parking vehicles “on any section of the right of way beyond the paved portion of the roadway. Parking on any portion of the curb, sidewalk or area between the edge of pavement and the street line.

The final change addressed commercial vehicles.

The change as proposed would state, “The parking of a commercial vehicle(s) shall not be permitted on any public street or right of way except under the following circumstances: vehicle(s) and/or equipment related to ongoing construction activities at an adjacent property. Under no circumstances shall overnight parking of commercial vehicle(s) be permitted unless authorized by the Local Traffic Authority. Vehicles used for purposes of temporary moving and or delivery of items shall be allowed for temporary parking, for violation of which the offender shall be fined $50 per day.”

No members of the public spoke on this possible amendment, but Town Manager, Robert Lee, said that Matthew Catania, Plainville Police Chief, submitted comments regarding language and grammatical changes.